The Integrator/Manufacturer Relationship
Industry experts weigh in on what an integrator needs from a manufacturer in this day and age and why.
- By Jamie Friedlander
- Mar 04, 2014
When a security integrator begins deciding which manufacturer
to use for an installation, a myriad of key elements come
into play. Does the manufacturer have easy-to-use online
training? Stellar customer support? Are their products ones
that can deploy and be configured quickly and simply?
A handful of security integrators have provided insight on the key elements
they take into consideration when choosing a manufacturer. Each has
weighed in on what they believe are the most important elements when making
their decision and why.
Recently, Steve Pharis, the president and CEO of Tutela Total Security Solutions
had to make the decision of which manufacturer to use for video management
systems (VMS). After consulting nearly 10 different companies, he
decided to go with Salient Systems.
One of the key reasons Pharis’ company decided to go with Salient was because
the company had an in-house ability to convert from analog to IP, something
that isn’t present in every VMS company. “They make their own boxes
and they use their analog cards to convert from an analog to an IP system,” Pharis
said. “If you are to replace your analog cameras and go to IP and use the same
box, they credit you for that conversion. You don’t have to buy new licenses.”
Pharis adds that this was one of the differentiators when his company decided
to go with Salient over other, larger companies who, unlike Salient, use
a third party manufacturer for an IP conversion box. “They had control over
that and they offered a price point solution that was very enticing to us and
the end users,” Pharis said.
“There’s definitely an advantage to manufacturers who have in-house capabilities
because it allows us to reduce or eliminate issues and improve efficiencies,”
said Robert Gaulden, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at
Kratos PSS. “It just streamlines the process. It’s good for the customer, it’s good
for us and it’s good for everybody involved.”
Another critical element when choosing which manufacturer to use in a security
installation is the quality of the company’s training programs, according
to various integrators.
Salient in particular offers online and in-house training for its integrators
and its integrator’s customers. Brian Carle, the director of product strategy
and Salient Systems, believes that high-quality training is critical for any successful
security manufacturer. “We recognize training is a critical component
to making the integrator successful, which ultimately makes us successful,”
Though customers and integrators enjoy in-field training, Carle pointed
out the benefits of online training. “Online training allows you to access it
anytime you want,” he said. “It’s more convenient and integrators don’t have
to take personnel out of the field for travel and class time.
Michael Thomas, the president of security company ICS, believes a combination
of online and in-field training is definitely a positive when choosing
a manufacturer. “I believe online training and in-field training are very
important to an integrator because they provide a great basis for continued
education as products evolve and new technologies emerge.”
At the most basic level, integrators need a company whose technology is top
notch. They want systems that are easily configured, quick to deploy and reliable.
Pharis was drawn to Salient Systems not only because of the ease of use of
the products, but because the company has an open platform and can integrate
with several different products. “They integrate to multiple platforms—
they’re not pigeon holing themselves,” said Pharis. “They are an open platform,
which is very strong, and their video interface provides a very detailed,
strong, easy to use video management solution. So you’ve got an easy to use
product with great support and the ability to be an open platform. It’s hard to
find that in any product.”
Carle echoes this statement from the manufacturer standpoint. “Integrators
and manufacturers have to be able to get in there and effectively use the product,”
he said. “Features should be intuitive and users should be able to access
features with a minimal number of actions. Having an easy-to-deploy product
A Personable Approach
While easy-to-use, high-quality products are a given in most integrators decision-
making process, many believe that where certain companies stand out
above others is in their personal relationships. Some companies may have
strong products, but are not willing to adapt and change with each integration.
Pharis says that this was one of the selling points about Salient. Being a
smaller company, Pharis felt Salient could make each integration more personalized
“If you’re going to use a nationally recognized company that’s been in business
for 100 years, they’re basically saying this is what we have and this is what
we do,” said Pharis. “For smaller companies, they can say listen, these guys
have a nice project, let’s dive into it; let’s help them design a solution. And that
is saying let’s put the customer first, let’s put the integrator first, and let’s help
them solve this problem.”
Carle believes this is an important part of the integrator/manufacturer relationship,
and suggests that the key to success is providing a program that
can fit a variety of situations. “It’s important for a manufacturer to provide a
product an integrator can use in a wide variety of scenarios,” said Carle. “Security
products companies that keep a smaller reseller channel allow themselves
to personalize or individualize the approach they provide to designing
systems or supporting installations.”
Beyond personalized solutions and a personable team, Thomas points out
it can be as simple as reliable and friendly customer support. “Even a quick
phone call to say, ‘Hey got your message and I’m on it and here’s what happens
next’ can be the key to a respectful relationship.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Security Today.
Jamie Friedlander is an associate content editor at Security Products magazine.